Farm Fresh and Fatal
In Judy Hogan’s Farm Fresh and Fatal, a small group of North Carolina vegetable farmers take their organic wares to Riverdell Farmers’ Market. Well, make those wares mostly organic. There are a few outlaws among the crowd, such as Giles, who has raised a genetically altered crop, and Kent, an obnoxious poultry inspector who never saw a hormone additive he didn’t like. While the characters in this mostly easygoing mystery couldn’t exactly be described as eccentric, some are definitely odd—especially the argumentative Herman, who describes himself as a “paleo-conservative.” As a group, they embody a small village of mainly like-minded people, but when Kent is poisoned on market day, the infighting begins. Told from the point-of-view of Penny Weaver, who spends part of the year in Wales, with her Welsh husband, we watch this formerly close-knit group fall apart. This mystery is fascinating for several reasons. One, the personal and political infighting that takes place after a murder are indicative of how society at large functions. Two, although the reader first looks at the community as a whole, individuality quickly emerges. And three—but definitely not last—is the fact that vegetables turn out of be a lot more interesting than we’d ever guessed.